the grotto and the factory
There is a bat currently doing laps around our villa, gobbling up bugs, and I am reminded of an experience several weeks ago. We were staying in a teensy town called Pastena, Italy tracing my husband's roots, when we decided to see the main tourist attraction of the area called Pastena Grotte (or Pastena caves). I thought nothing of it. I wanted to go see the local sight, so we bought our tickets and walked to the entrance for our guided tour. We started in the first area of the cave and I am holding Bodhi thinking, hmm... I better not let him get down and walk around in here. Too many crevices and too much dank, dripping, stalagtite musty juice. So we walk on, me with squirming baby in tow, my husband, and his parents. We reach a section called the blue grotto and my husband and his father go down alone while his mom, me, and the baby wait. The guide graciously told us it would be about a hundred steps down. While we wait, I read the booklet about the cave and see a whole section dedicated to bat excrement. All the sudden my naturopathic education comes flooding back, and I think about how many communicable diseases are spread by bats, and how filthy they are. I think of my son breathing bat excrement into his lungs and suddenly I am in a real hurry to get the hell out of this cave. When the guide comes back, we politely ask if we can find our way back to the entrance ourselves and slip out of the tour. Really, again, I made up a lame excuse about the baby when really it was me and my mother-in-law who had decided quite early on that this tour was not exactly our cup of tea. When my husband and his father arrive back after the tour, I ask how it was and what did we miss... they say: you made a good choice. There were bat feces piled up in mounds in one area, not really something anyone wants to see, unless possibly you are a real extreme naturalist. There is nothing like having a baby to make me trust my intuitive side more strongly than I have before. And to have a built-in excuse when something doesn't feel right. We went to a prosciutto-making plant outside the town of Parma two days ago too. I really wasn't thinking about what I would see on this tourr. I thought, great, a tour about local products: how to make local parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto d'Parma, and lambrusco (a local sparkling red wine, that may sound gross but is absolutely perfectly delicious). When I got inside the proosciutto factoy and saw the legs of pigs, I thought, utoh, this was a mistake. (Hello, prosciutto IS made from the legs of pigs!!) But my intuitive little boy got a few steps inside the factory and burst into tears. I funneled him out of there in a matter of seconds, knowing he was totally put off by the whole concept, as he well should have been. As a former vegetarian, I totally get it. I could tell my sensitive little boy picked up on it right away, the death, the flesh, the whole meat aging experience, and was not at all wanting to be there. I was impressed by his awareness, and almost brought to tears. I realize everyday how sensitive and aware this little being is, and how much of our experience he picks up on with his senses - definitely more than I am aware of, and I really try! He is gathering information like a sponge. And gaining confidence with his steps. I love his blooming vocabulary. It is amazing to watch his face absolutely light up when he sees a dog, and screams, DIDAHH! At the top of his lungs. Naming things is his newest novelty. My favorite is the "DIDAHH". Who knows, two cat-loving parents may end up with a DIDAHH in a few months time... His other words are "nanana" for banana, "dat, dat, dat" for either "I want that" or "give me that", "papa" for his grandpa, brrrrrrutta (which we still cannot figure out but I think might mean fruit?), and "at a" for water. oh, what a fun journey it is.